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Indonesia deports suspected Covid-19 sufferers

Authorities say an unspecified number of Japanese nationals were refused entry on arrival in the country

Indonesia deports suspected Covid-19 sufferers

An Indonesian policeman wears a mask at Sultan Iskander Muda International Airport in Aceh Besar on Feb. 16. (Photo: AFP)

Indonesian authorities worried about the spread of the coronavirus epidemic have refused entry to several Japanese nationals found to be suffering from fevers after getting off flights, according to a government official.

Achmad Yurianto, secretary of the Directorate General of Disease Prevention and Control at the Health Ministry, said the Japanese people were denied entry on Feb. 19. 

He refused to say how many people were denied entry and which airport was involved.

On arrival, the Japanese underwent virus screening and were found to have a fever. Subsequent interviews revealed they had been in contact with people who had previously contracted the virus, leading officials to believe that they too could be infected with the Covid-19 strain.

“It has been the policy of airport authorities to refuse entry in such cases,” Yurianto said.

When contacted by UCA News on Feb. 20, the directorate’s director-general Anung Sugihantono claimed he had not yet received any information from immigration officials about the deportations.

Felix Gunawan, a doctor and chairman of the Jakarta-based Catholic Association of Indonesian Health Services, said the deportations were the right decision. “It was the right move, otherwise it would have been a heavy burden on our government,” he said.

The Indonesian government has stepped up prevention efforts, including virus screening at airports and the monitoring of passengers, especially those from China.

Indonesia has yet to record a confirmed case of the deadly virus that has killed 2,129 people from more than 75,000 confirmed infections, mainly in mainland China.

However, a 44-year-old Indonesian domestic worker in Singapore tested positive for the virus early this month. She has since been discharged from a hospital after recovering.

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At least 28 other countries including Japan have recorded cases.

Three out of 78 Indonesian crew members on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, quarantined in Yokohama in Japan since early this month, have also tested positive for the virus. Latest reports say at least 621 infections have been confirmed on the ship.

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